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POMP AND  CIRCUMSTANCE                                  21


Really this was a very extraordinary situation. Here was a
flaming insult, an incitement to revolt, flaunted before the eyes
of hundreds of people. But nobody was taking any notice of it.
Were they blind ? Or dazz ed by the sun ? Or not quite right in,
the head ? Passengers hurried past, British soldiers with rifles
on their sweating backs, business men carrying attache cases,
Indian women in sarees of green and s Iver, Brahmin priests,
peasants carrying hens by the legs, Indian sailors lugging kit
bags. None paid the least attention.

And then I thought of another scene, very far away. Grey
trees, November mists, sooty railings... Hyde Park and the
mob orators. Their strident voices echoed in my memory, and
they too were shouting 'Quit!' They were shouting it to the King
and Queen, to the lords and ladies of England, to all those who
dwelt in gilded palaces. And nobody paid any attention. The
policemen grinned, the mob chimed in with coarse but affec-
tionate interjections; the words were Robespierre's but the
^ reaction was Robey's.

Had England, in India, performed another of her unconscious
miracles ? Was she once again shaming the volcano by ignoring
its eruptions ? It looked very like it.

Within a week or so QUIT INDIA ceased to shock, one saw it
so often. One of the favourite pastimes of American soldiers
was to get a piece of chalk and alter the slogan into QUIT
iNDiAnapolis. There were other variations by the British, but
they were too impolite to be quoted here.

Shock number two came about an hour later, after we had
made a rapid tour of the city of New Delhi and were headin^ for
the Viceroy's house.
It was a negative sort of shock. I found myself checking a
vasi; yawn and suddenly realized that I was excessively bored.
This was very odd. All these strange sights and sounds, the
white and silver sarees of the women, the croak of the crows and